Filipino restaurants thriving in Washington DC
The highlight of this past week has obviously been the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America, executed with a beautiful tribute to those lost due to the pandemic, with performances from some of the music industry’s greatest talents and with a fantastic fireworks display over the Washington monument.
This made me wonder how Filipinos in the United States, especially Washington DC, are faring. So I checked out online a few of the Filipino restaurants or food establishments in DC and, thankfully, they seem to be doing well.
Aside from Bad Saint, which you may already know about, here are others that would be worth a visit when we can finally travel again. If you have friends in the United States, do tell them about these restaurants so they can keep business going in spite of these trying times. Here’s our virtual food trip:
1. Kusina by Egg Karne
This is no ordinary “kusina” (kitchen). Kusina by Egg Karne serves creative dishes like the ube burger, which is ube made into an ube pancake bun then fried and used to sandwich two layers of longganisa patties, cheese and fried egg. This takes the ube trend to a whole different level.
They also have fries, but not your ordinary fries. They serve adobo pork belly fries. They also have arroz caldo, but not your ordinary arroz caldo. They serve arroz caldo balls, just like arancini but evidently using the flavors of arroz caldo.
Check out their Facebook page facebook.com/theeggkarne and follow @eggkarne on Instagram for details.
Kaliwa is a high-end restaurant by chef Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong for Filipino, Korean and Thai food and they are on the Bib Gourmand list of the Michelin Guide.
This is how the Michelin Guide describes them: “If a trip to Thailand or the Philippines doesn’t happen to fit your budget, a dinner at Kaliwa is in order. Tucked inside the District Wharf, it’s not a consolation prize—it’s a true feast about as delicious as can be imagined. Chef Cathal Armstrong’s authentic and delicious Korean, Filipino, or Thai cooking is blessed with serious flavor. A classic pancit is elevated with crisp, sweet spring peas, spaghetti-like ribbons of carrots, crunchy chicharrónes, and a tangle of tender noodles. Thai items like pad tua faak yaow and kaeng daeng don’t just bring the spice, but also showcase each complex ingredient in perfect, sublime harmony. The Chef’s Progressive Menu is only a few extra dollars and well-worth the whirlwind tour of delectable dishes.”
In the spirit of safety, they now also offer a Southeast Asian Journey menu, saying “We are resilient and DC-strong!”
Visit their website kaliwadc.com and follow @kaliwa_dc on Instagram.
3. Lasing Na Baboy
They offer classic dishes like Bicol Express but they also have wonderful creations such as eggplant adobo with fresh tomatoes, onions and tamari; and a Babinka, inspired by the bibingka and coconuts and shaped like a ball, which they describe as a sweet rice coconut cake.
Visit their website lasingnababoy.com and follow @lasing_na_baboy on Instagram.
4. The Game Sports Pub
This is a sports bar but it has been getting rave reviews for its pub menu as well. They take watching games to a whole different level with chef Jojo Valenzuela’s cooking, as you will read in their announcement: “Doors open at 4:00 p.m. Lechon served at 6:30 p.m.” Lechon completes the game.
The good news for those who want to dine in is that they have a heated patio that has been set up to observe social distancing. The patio opens at 3:00 p.m. and this is where you can enjoy something that just does not work as a take-out order: sisig. They also offer other pulutan that Filipinos do best such as chicken skin. The chef also has a tribute to Efren Bata called the Efren Bata’s Trick Shot: crispy pork belly, chicken liver aioli with a mind-blowing combination of fish sauce, atsara and jalapeño.
Visit their website thegamedc.com and follow @thegamesportspub on Instagram.
5. Purple Patch
I was browsing through their Instagram and I want to fly to D.C. just to try their bone-in short rib bistek. They describe it as “Chef Patrice’s 25-oz soy sauce + calamansi-braised bone-in short rib.” They also serve pancit canton paired with braised ginger pork belly. Best of all, they have halo-halo, complete with macapuno and langka, available daily.
Visit their website purplepatchdc.com and follow @purplepatchdc on Instagram.
6. Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly
They specialize in, as the name says, lechon belly, although they now do only take out and delivery. If you check out their Instagram, you will see why they are easy to love. The lechon belly has the most beautifully glazed crispy skin, and its crunch would really be music to a pork lover’s ears. They also offer lechon sinigang and a lechon skin and rice bowl.
They used to do boodle fights called Kinamot. Now they have a Kinamot To Go menu with boodle fight favorites on a tray.
Visit their website kuyajas.com and follow @kuyaja on Instagram.
7. Gwenie’s Pastries
The favorite among Pinoy D.C. chefs, as seen in their delightful posts when they receive goodies from this shop, is Gwenie’s Pastries. This is the store of Stella Fernandez, who is the sister of Javier of Kuya Ja, and the store is named after their mother Gwendolyn.
Everyone’s raving about their ube cupcakes. But they have other Filipino flavors as well: mango, pandan and yema cupcakes. They also have Gwenie’s biko, bitsu-bitsu, kutsinta and sapin-sapin. I would have them on speed dial if I lived in D.C.
They are based in Maryland but their pastries are sold in Kuya Ja’s as well as on Amazon and Whole Foods. Visit their website gweniespastries.com and follow @gweniespastries on Instagram.
8. Manila Mart
Finally, the most essential store is the Manila Mart, which has Filipino grocery products. But they also serve home-cooked Filipino meals. They have classic dinuguan, pancit, lumpia and pinakbet.
Visit their website manilamart.com and follow @manilamart on Instagram.
The Consul General of Washington D.C., during a quick messenger chat, relayed that Filipinos in the area were doing well and they were slowly “returning to normal” after the inauguration.
Here’s to a wonderful year ahead for our kababayans in D.C., in the US and around the world! Keep those Filipino flavors alive and continue spreading the joy of Filipino food.
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